Researching Alaska Cruises for next year

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#1
South West Alabama
301 Posts
Joined Nov 2012
I feel like I am already late planning. Next year my husband and I wish to celebrate our 20th anniversary with an Alaskian cruise. We are limited to about 10 days of vacation and flying Southwest airlines. We still work and have children at home. So I have been looking at Seattle for departure and return port. I have never flown and only cruised once before.
I realize there are much more spectacular cruise and land tour packages but I think we are going to have to settle for a round trip cruise out of Seattle.
What itineraries do you suggest?
What should I avoid?
We will be sailing in May I prefer not to push it back but if there was a major reason why we should, we might be able to. I understand this is called "shoulder season" and kind of early for Alaska?
Many thanks
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Victoria

03-03-2013 Norwegian Star
#2
16,488 Posts
Joined Aug 2013
An itinerary that includes Glacier Bay will be nice. We also did the Alaska cruise on a month of May and not as cold as we expected. We also had rain so a hooded light jacket will be fine. We also took Southwest Airline and its 2 free checked bags worked well during our packing.

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#3
Redmond WA
8,497 Posts
Joined Sep 2009
You still have time to research and find the best cruise for you.
As you view itineraries pay close attention to port times. You need to be in port long enough and at the right time for planned activities.
I wouldn't rule out RT Vancouver ......easy to fly into Seatac then transfer to vancouver by Amtrak, a bus company, rental car, or cruiseline transfer. Vancouver sailings travel between Vanc Island and mainland BC so its more scenic and generally calmer seas. The Seattle sailings travel on the west side of the Island so its like open ocean, no scenery. Also, Seattle sailings must stop in victoria.....usually just 4 hrs in the evening.
Have fun with your research!
#4
646 Posts
Joined May 2016
May is shoulder season, but can offer good to great weather, depending .... there is no guarantee on weather, but our experience has generally been good weather. Except for our most recent trip, mid-May. The first day out of Vancouver, I really appreciated ALL the layers I brought with me. Base layer, t-shirt, fleecy, vest, and down sweater. With wool socks and boots for my feet. Cold, rainy (like something from a movie), and windy. Next day in Juneau -- sunny and people were swimming in the outdoor pool.

I agree with MAplesleaves' suggestion that you consider Vancouver R/T itineraries, as there are many ways to get from Seattle to Vancouver.
#5
South West Alabama
301 Posts
Joined Nov 2012
I will loo at Vancouver. I kind of got overwhelmed trying to figure out getting from Seattle to Vancouver in time to board a ship. It looked like I would need to fly in one day, stay over night travel to Vancouver the next day, get another hotel for the night, then board ship. Seemed like it would add 2 days/nights to the beginning and end of the trip. Maybe I misunderstood the whole process
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Victoria

03-03-2013 Norwegian Star
#6
Redmond WA
8,497 Posts
Joined Sep 2009
Depends on when your flight arrives at Seatac. The late train leaves seattle at 6:50pm. Gets you to vanc at 11pm. Then you can spend several hrs sightseeing in vanc before boarding the ship.
The morning train leaves at 7:45am.

Or take greyhound bus, or quick coach, or rent a car......
They are just options to consider. This transfer is the easiest thing to work out. I'd focus on the cruise itineraries first.
#7
24,826 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
You have time to plan. Don't worry that you are late in the planning. I love to go at the end of May. Great time to see Alaska

I would also put a plug into Glacier Bay!
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#8
N.C.
515 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
We were on the Carnival Legend 8 night Alaskan cruise on May 8th. I booked about 15 months before the cruise. It was round trip out of Seattle. I think this next May the Legend is in dry dock the first 2 weeks of May.
It is not too late but I would try to book soon if I were you. Our cruise went up around $600 on our balcony room within about 6 months after I booked. I was glad I did book early. It was our favorite cruise. If we ever go again, I would want to go in May because of all the snow. It was beautiful!
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#9
Texas
64 Posts
Joined Apr 2016
If you're looking to go round-trip out of Seattle, we've booked a seven day RT out of Seattle on Holland America for June 2018. It goes to Glacier Bay and stops in Sitka. Obviously, we've not taken the cruise yet but I did a lot of research and am really looking forward to it.
#10
4,261 Posts
Joined Dec 2014
Another vote for Glacier Bay to be included in the itinerary. Vancouver is a $60 shuttle ride. Vancouver has lots to offer for a multi-day stay at your bonus port.
#11
New Mexico
4,465 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
We fly Southwest Airlines to Seattle, rent a car at the airport, drive three hours to Vancouver, drop off the car at the Avis or Hertz offices five blocks from the Cruise Terminal, spend the night, and cruise the next day.

Returning from the cruise, we take a taxi to the Vancouver airport, rent a car, drive to the Seattle airport and fly out the same early evening.
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#12
Montgomery County, Maryland
3,986 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
My opinion here & what we did...

1. Choose an itinerary that includes Glacier Bay. It is National Park & a World Heritage Site. And it offers guaranteed glacier viewing.

2. Don't rule out Vancouver round trips.

When travelling with our 4.5 year old son, we flew into Seattle & took Amtrak to Vancouver. (Stayed 1 night in Vancouver) upon our return to Vancouver, we took Amtrak back to Seattle & flew home the next day. (I think we used 9 days total)
#13
South West Alabama
301 Posts
Joined Nov 2012
Thanks for the info on Transport to Vancouver. Currently flights are not released for May so I am going by times for previous months. All the flights from my airport arrive in Seattle late in the day and all the flights back leave early. Like the flight up leaves here at 7:50 am arrives and 6:55pm then to return it leaves at 6:35 am and arrives back at 7:05 pm. Im going to have to convince my husband to drive and fly out of New Orleans I think but that only curts it down to an 8 hour trip
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Victoria

03-03-2013 Norwegian Star
#14
Northern California
3,075 Posts
Joined Sep 2006
I hope you don't really think of an Alaska roundtrip Seattle as "settling." That can be a wonderful thing, and I certainly wouldn't think of it that way. One of the Seattle roundtrips that go to Glacier Bay would be a great choice. I imagine that what others are saying about it being a reasonable schlep over to do a Vancouver roundtrip would make that a great choice as well. But if you've never visited Seattle (or even if you have), you might find it more peaceful to fly in there a day or two early and do some exploring there. It's a great place.
#15
South West Alabama
301 Posts
Joined Nov 2012
I didnt mean it as settling for something less but more of thats the best choice for our circumstances. I am not a well traveled person. I have never flown and only cruised once before. Usually we vacation close to home (within an 8 hour drive). So traveling by air and cruising is a big deal for me. I am very excited. However I do not want to overwhelm us with "fly to A, take train to B, board cruise ship, cruise to C, Take land tours to D E and F, Travel back to B, Take train back to A, fly home". Its probably more then i can plan and enjoy at this point.
I'll stick with Seattle RT and enjoy the heck out of the cruise
I have decided on Glacier Bay and am ignoring anything with Tracy Arm. Looks like Ruby Princess and NCL Sun or Pearl are more most likely options. I am leaning toward the Princess
This is the Princess Line up:
Saturday, April 28 Seattle, WA 4:00pm
Sunday, April 29 At Sea
Monday, April 30 Juneau, AK 11:00am -10:00pm
Tuesday, May 1 Skagway, AK 6:00am- 8:00pm
Wednesday, May 2 Glacier Bay National Park, AK (Cruising)
Thursday, May 3 Ketchikan, AK 7:00am -1:00pm
Friday, May 4 Victoria, BC, Canada 7:00pm -11:59pm
Saturday, May 5 Seattle, WA 7:00am
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Victoria

03-03-2013 Norwegian Star
#16
3 Posts
Joined Jun 2017
You will LOVE your cruise. I did a Seattle RT last Aug and it was amazing, I'd do it again tomorrow if I could. Your trip will be whatever you make it, so I say take the less stressful route and just have fun.


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#17
Redmond WA
8,497 Posts
Joined Sep 2009
take your time .....don't be in a rush to make a decision.
Seattle RT sounds like a good choice for your circumstances and will make your trip easy.

But look closely at those port times though . ie Ketchikan 7am-1pm. Does 3 or 4 hours give you enough time for planned activities ?
Will the late arrival in Juneau impact your plans ?

Not saying this is a bad itinerary .... just advising you to look at the whole picture to ensure the itinerary meets your sightseeing needs.
#18
South West Alabama
301 Posts
Joined Nov 2012
All the cruise line iteniraries are almost the same. One may have a little more time in one port while a different line has more time in a different port like this is NCL Sun 9 day
Thursday, April 19Seattle, WA4:00pm
Friday, April 20At Sea
Saturday, April 21Juneau, AK2:00pm 10:00pm
Sunday, April 22Skagway, AK7:00am 8:00pm
Monday, April 23Glacier Bay National Park, AK (Cruising)
Tuesday, April 24Icy Strait Point, AK7:00am 4:00pm
Wednesday, April 25Ketchikan, AK10:00am 7:00pm
Thursday, April 26At Sea
Friday, April 27Victoria, BC, Canada12:00pm 11:59pm
Saturday, April 28Seattle, WA8:00am
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Victoria

03-03-2013 Norwegian Star
#19
Sacramento, California
706 Posts
Joined Jun 2003
Originally posted by mapleleaves
take your time .....don't be in a rush to make a decision.
Seattle RT sounds like a good choice for your circumstances and will make your trip easy.

But look closely at those port times though . ie Ketchikan 7am-1pm. Does 3 or 4 hours give you enough time for planned activities ?
Will the late arrival in Juneau impact your plans ?

Not saying this is a bad itinerary .... just advising you to look at the whole picture to ensure the itinerary meets your sightseeing needs.
A 7-day Seattle cruise with one glacier cruising day and 3 Alaska ports is going to have a short visit in one of the ports because of the time it takes to sail from Seattle to Alaska. The one the OP posted spends good chunks of time in Skagway and Juneau. The 7-day Seattle HAL cruises have the same 7 AM to 1 PM Ketchican port time. Is there another 7-day Seattle itinerary that you feel is better?

Cruising Alaska from Seattle wouldn't be my ideal trip, but I've traveled a lot and am pretty comfortable with airports, trains, rental cars and all the other moving parts of planning a trip. For a first venture far afield, I can understand wanting simpler logistics. It's a good plan - with 10 days, they could stay a couple of nights in Seattle having a nice visit there before getting on the ship.
#20
South West Alabama
301 Posts
Joined Nov 2012
Would you lean more toward the 9 day NCL or the 7 day Princess?
Same exact price no major perks for booking one over the other (onboard credit etc) I have cruised NCL before so i like "dine when you want to" deal but Princess offers that option as well.
Both ships are smaller and older and i am fine with that. Husband says he can take 14 days off so there is that part of me that wants the longer cruise but another part isnt sure about it.
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Victoria

03-03-2013 Norwegian Star